The definitive – and gripping – biography of a remarkable statesman.
This book is a revelation. The Boris Yeltsin that emerges from its pages is a leader of exceptional quality: determined, stubborn, brilliantly intelligent, direct and, perhaps above all, brave.
Aron skilfully plots Yeltsin’s commitment to fighting corruption and centralization and ending the grotesque hypocrisy that so bedevilled the Soviet Union, while at the same time remaining fully alive to his subject’s faults.
In doing so, he has written a magnificent history of Russia’s last sixty years, and makes a series of highly illuminating comparisons with previous revolutions.
The result of these labours is nothing short of remarkable. It is a very exciting book, not because of its subject, but because of the pace, intelligence and quality of the writing. There are very long sections that are as unputdownable as a good thriller.
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History will be the final judge of Yeltsin's legacy and his complex personality. How will it understand the contradictions of the founding father of post-communist Russia: crusader for freedom who crushed political dissention; the man who climbed into a tank outside the Russian parliament in 1991 and changed history and who stumbles drunkenly in front of the world's media? Leon Aron's masterful biography fully realises the opportunity to write history through the tale of one man.
Born to a peasant family-his grandfather perished in Stalin's collectivisation and his father was once sentenced to a forced labour camp, Yeltsin is truly a man of the people. With great flair and insight into a nation often misunderstood in the West, Aron charts the rise, fall and resurrection of this most triumphant political opportunist, detailing his mighty victories and grievous failures in transforming Russia. By taking advantage of Yeltsin's unprecedented establishment of greater freedom of speech, Aron, an academic and journalistic expert on his country of birth, has expertly tracked the movement of history in a turbulent land through the biography of a single man. His exhaustive and well-indexed research never weighs down the energy of this story, but rather allows it to emerge against a rich and broadly textured background, enhanced with well- selected photographs.
The judgement of history will ultimately depend, according to Aron, upon the future direction of Russia. If it sinks into a corrupt oligarchy ruling a backward economy, Yeltsin will be judged as having missed a unique opportunity to change Russia's destiny; if a peaceful, free and increasingly wealthy Russia emerges, then Yeltsin may be held in the esteemed company of great figures who brought back their nations from the brink of catastrophe.
Whenever the final chapter is written on this extraordinary figure, Boris Yeltsin: An Extraordinary Life is to date the definitive chronicle and by far the best attempt yet to understand this complex figure and his remarkable times. --Fiona BucklandReview:
‘There is no doubt that Leon Aron’s compelling study of Boris Yeltsin will become one of the early front runners for biography of the year.’
‘a real achievement’
Mail on Sunday
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Book Description HARPERCOLLINS, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0006530419